Queensland has over 430 landfills and transfer stations servicing 4.6 million people in 73 local government areas, that’s about six facilities per local government. And here’s the rub, due to a high variation in population across these areas some of the remote and rural areas have as many as 14 facilities to service no more than 33,000 residents!
Not only is this unsustainable, but only commercial customers are charged gate fees whilst domestic users are charged nothing at the gate to dispose of rubbish. So the cost is borne by businesses or covered under utility charges imposed by councils to raise revenue to operate the facilities. There are economic opportunities in recycling waste and secondary recovery of waste but the state stands no chance of capturing them until a generational change occurs.
The Department of Environment and Heritage Protection (EHP) has stated that it will be consistent in taking prompt, strong enforcement action to ensure waste facility owners act responsibly and meet their environmental obligations. There is an expectation that all waste facility holders will be subject to the same standards and those that do not meet minimum environmental standards will no longer be permitted to operate or will be required to invest in significant resources to being them up to scratch. Thus councils with a high proportion of waste facilities will be forced to review their current landfills and transfer stations. This will limit the long term environmental and economic liability on ratepayers and provide the state with a more efficient and sustainable waste management system, one focused on resource recovery and environmental protection. Kartaway are able to operate public recycling centres in other states that recycle most waste collected and have green star certification.
Many local governments have already begun to rationalise their landfills, with Mackay and the Gold Coast leading the way. This provides the seeds of change but is just the tip of what is required for generational change. The Waste Recycling Industry Association (Qld) believes a rationalisation of up to 65% of landfills in Queensland is required over the next few years, concentrating on lifting all environmental standards and closing waste facilities that do not meet minimum engineered and managed performance criteria.
Taken from an article by WRIQ CEO Rick Ralph and Dr Georgina Davis published by Inside Waste, Oct 2013